February 20, 2019 / 10:50 AM / 6 months ago

Russian President Putin's address to parliament

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The following are highlights from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual address to parliament on Wednesday. The highlights will be continuously updated throughout the speech.

RUSSIA-USA RELATIONS

“We have no interest in confrontation and we don’t want one, least of all with such a global power as the United States. But it appears our partners haven’t noticed how quickly the world is changing, and where it is heading. They continue their destructive and plainly mistaken policy.”

“...among the U.S. ruling class there are a lot of people who are too taken with the idea of their exceptionalism, of their supremacy over everyone else. Of course, it’s their right to think whatever way they want. But can they count? I’m sure they can. Let them count the range and speed of the weapons systems we are developing. That’s all we ask.”

“Let them count, and then after that take the decisions which could create additional threats for our country. And which, of course, would lead to reciprocal actions from Russia whose security will be reliably and unconditionally assured.”

IF U.S. DEPLOYS MISSILES IN EUROPE BANNED UNDER INF TREATY

“In that case, we will be forced, and I want to underline this, forced to take both reciprocal and assymetrical measures.”

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy types of weapons which can be used not only in respect of those territories from which the direct threat to us originates, but also in respect of those territories where the centers of decision-making are located for using the rocket systems that are threatening us.”

“Russia does not intend, and this is important, I am repeating this advisedly, Russia does not intend to take the first step in deploying such missiles in Europe.”

ON TIES WITH THE EU

“We hope... the European Union will take real steps to restore normal political and economic relations with Russia.”

ON WELFARE

“Thanks to many years of collective effort and the results we have achieved we can now invest... colossal, at least for our country, financial resources in development. No one has handed them to us, we did not borrow them - these funds are created by millions of our citizens... they should be used... to increase the wellbeing of Russian families.”

“Resolving demographic issues, increasing life expectancy and lowering the death rate are directly linked to overcoming poverty... there are too many poor people... we, of course, should focus our attention on this and on fighting this phenomenon.”

ON MICROLENDING

“I am asking the central bank and law enforcement to bring order to the microlending market in the shortest possible time frame ... social support should reach every single family (in need).”

ON ECONOMIC GROWTH

“We need a high rate of economic growth. Only that way can we beat poverty, and ensure a stable and noticeable rise in incomes for our citizens... The government and central bank should bring inflation back within the target range.”

“(The government and central bank) should ensure favorable macroeconomic conditions for growth... Our reserves fully cover external debt - both in the sovereign and commercial sector... To achieve a high rate of growth, we should solve systemic economic issues.”

ON BUSINESS AND LAW

“To achieve the massive targets before the country, we must get rid of everything that is restricting the freedom and initiative of business... Honest businesses should not be the subject of criminal prosecution.”

ON INFRASTRUCTURE

“We should speed up the modernization of infrastructure... This has huge significance for strengthening the structure of the state... for the economic growth of the entire Russian state... This year, the railway link across the Crimean bridge will start... This will allow us to significantly develop both Crimea and Sevastopol.”

Reporting by Moscow bureau

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